Three-Meal-a-Day Pattern Still Strong among U.S. Adults

Article excerpt

SAN DIEGO - More than half of American men and women report a pattern of consuming breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, according to results from a large survey.

However, obese adults are less likely than are normal-weight adults to report a three-meal daily eating pattern. They also are less likely than are their normal-weight counterparts to consume four or more snacks per day.

"Snacking may not contribute to weight gain," lead researcher Donna G. Rhodes said in an interview after the study was presented during a late-breaking abstract session at the meeting. "When it comes to weight maintenance, the total amount of calories we consume is important."

The findings come from a sample of 1-day dietary data extracted from "What We Eat in America" (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007-2008), which was released this year. Dietary data and 36 summary data tables are available on the Food Surveys Research Group Web site (www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/fsrg). Ms. Rhodes presented findings from a 24-hour dietary recall made by 2,662 men and 2,758 women, aged 20 years and older, who participated in the nationally representative survey.

Ms. Rhodes, a nutritionist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, and her associates used the USDA Automated Multiple Pass Method to collect the recall data from the 5,420 participants. During the recall, the name of each eating occasion was self-reported from a fixed list.

In all, 59% of men and 64% of women reported consuming the standard three-meal pattern of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and about 90% of both sexes reported at least one snack occasion per day, which consisted of at least one food or beverage item that contained calories. …